Plan Protects Sensitive Ocean Areas, Facilitates Renewable Energy Development
Tricia K. Jedele, Conservation Law Foundation, (401) 787-3370
Karen Wood, Conservation Law Foundation, (617) 850-1722
PROVIDENCE, RI July 22, 2011 – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) applauded today’s announcement of federal approval of Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). Developed by the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) with extensive input from scientists and government, business and environmental stakeholders, including CLF, the SAMP aims to balance the protection of vulnerable marine habitats and wildlife with responsible ocean uses including the development of clean renewable energy. The SAMP represents a critical building block in the implementation of the Obama Administration’s Executive Order for the Stewardship of Our Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes, which was issued last summer and mandates the development of a regional comprehensive ocean management plan for New England and for other ocean regions around the nation. Today’s federal approval of the SAMP is particularly noteworthy because it means that any future projects intended for the almost 1,500 square miles of ocean waters covered by the plan – waters that are among the most productive in New England – must be consistent with the policies and allowable uses set forth in the SAMP.
“This plan is a milestone for Rhode Island’s oceans,” stated Tricia K. Jedele, director of CLF’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center. “Our state’s ocean waters are a vital source of jobs, food, recreation, transportation, and a key resource in our transformation to clean renewable energy. Ocean resources are facing increasing environmental and economic development pressures. The SAMP is a key achievement that will assist in resolving potential user conflicts and in integrating the coordinated management of Rhode Island’s ocean waters. Moreover, we applaud the CRMC for the transparent and extensive stakeholder and public outreach effort that went into the SAMP’s development, offering all of the Ocean State’s citizens and stakeholders the opportunity to take part in planning the future of its ocean waters.”
Grover Fugate, Executive Director of the CRMC, also spoke to the importance of public and stakeholder involvement in the development of the SAMP, including CLF’s role in the process, saying, “The CRMC sincerely appreciated the effort and perseverance of the Conservation Law Foundation in its participation throughout the SAMP planning process. CLF’s input and comments added significant value to the final document.”
CLF praised the SAMP’s strong protection of Rhode Island’s underwater habitats, in particular its rocky moraines – biodiversity hot spots that are critical to the great variety of plants and wildlife that inhabit the state’s ocean waters. The SAMP also establishes a tough standard of environmental review to discourage harmful ocean uses, such as sand and gravel mining, dredging, and other ocean development activities that could threaten important ecological areas, formally designated as Areas of Particular Concern and Areas Designated for Preservation. The SAMP also identifies a renewable energy zone for the first time in Rhode Island waters and establishes a framework that will enable the State to capitalize on its substantial ocean wind resources to produce clean renewable energy. “As New England looks ahead to developing a comprehensive use plan for all of the region’s ocean waters, the Ocean SAMP will stand as a strong model to build upon,” said Jedele.
The Conservation Law Foundation (www.clf.org) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. CLF uses the law, science and the market to preserve natural resources, build healthy communities and sustain a thriving economy. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.